Whoopee – Continent #7 – At Last . . .
Early morning pic when we arrive in the Shetland Islands, at north end of the Antarctic Peninsula – I was memorializing bagging my 7th and final continent on my bucket list

I was impressed by the attention to safety in all activities on cruise . . . from shore landings to polar plunges to shipboard procedures.  The reassurance of an extra “rescue” zodiac boat during all off-boat activities was impressive.  As a long-time student of maritime history and adventures in rounding Cape Horn and visiting the white continent, I know that the old time sailing ships would rig life lines as rogue waves swept the decks.  I caught this “untraditional” pic in the hallway outside my cabin.  It’s just your standard cart used by staff for cleaning the cabins . . . note the hand rails, that were ubiquitous throughout the ship, and if you look closely, you’ll see the line tying the cart to the railing.   Sorry for the bit of camera shake in the image, but this was taken during the rough crossing of the Drake Passage.

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New International friends  I got to be good friends with Shivagi and Rupali (in the sari) from Mumbai.  They were on a 75 day, round-the-world journey.  They were completing their bucket list 7th continent on this cruise and came prepared to memorialize it with this 7th Continent banner.  This was taken on the forward deck, in front the wrap around Dome Lounge, of our ship, the World Navigator.  Pic was taken in the middle of the flooded caldera of the active volcano that forms Deception Island in the South Shetlands.  Not really in evidence are the goose bumps, we were experiencing 20-25 mph winds and temps of around 35°F.  Polar Plunge This is just one of my pics of people doing the Polar Plunge.  What impressed me was that 71 passengers (out of I think 143, or maybe 150) chose to participate in this rite-of-passage.  Note the ubiquitous “rescue” zodiac monitoring the event.  The “wranglers” in the zodiac were shouting encouragement to the plungers. Winds Forecast for the Drake Passage  This is a screenshot of the Live Wind map from Windy.com . . . I was impressed that the ship got as good satellite Internet service as it did in the challenging communications environment of the Drake Passage and Antarctica.  The highlighted 12.6 m/s in the center of the map is about 28 mph.  This was on the southbound passage across the Drake.  The return voyage, northbound to Ushuaia, featured the true “Drake Shake” experience of hurricane force winds over 70 mph and waves averaging 16 feet and peaking at 26 feet.  We even experienced one gust of 84 knots (96mph) when exiting Deception Island.  Waves build up off of Cape Horn at the south tip of South America because the deep waters of the Drake passage (12,000 feet deep) build up as they cross the shallow waters of the continental shelf (600 ft).  Over 800 ships have been lost over the centuries trying to round Cape Horn.   I was impressed that the World Navigator took the weather in fine form.   The ship took the weather extremely well.  I have videos of the huge waves taken from the dining room and you can see the glasses and dishes didn’t move at all.  We did acquire “sea legs” to go with the slight roll of the ship, though. Deception Island  Our last day in Antarctica . . . spent touring the flooded caldera of an active volcano.  Saw two active research stations and remains of abandoned whaling station as we sailed around the interior of the caldera.  Winds and sea conditions precluded us doing shore excursions this day.  An example of the concern and care the ships staff showed for our well being. Comments: Kudos to the 82 year old intrepid individual who was one of the 19 passengers who elected to camp out overnight on the shore.  He got up the next morning and did the regular morning shore excursion and then took the Polar Plunge at noon.   I think this shows you are never too old to satisfy your dreams. I was truly impressed by all the staff of the World Navigator and the lengths to which they went to make it a safe and memorable experience.  The ship was one of the most comfortable I’ve experienced.  The limit of 200 passengers allows the staff to get to know all the passengers individually and avoids the huge crowds of larger cruiser ships.  Although you would think there would be a lot of “dead” time to fill in the 2 day down and 2 day back journey across the 500+ miles of the Drake Passage, the staff filled it with very enjoyable lectures and programs prepping us for what we would be seeing and doing in Antarctica and the history and ecology of the Southern continent.   They conducted all the shore landings providing tremendous aid to the passengers to make sure they were safe at all times.   There were always one or more extra zodiacs providing “overwatch” to make sure that any emergency could be handled expeditiously. The variety of landing sites was fantastic.  We got to see all the wildlife . . . whales . . . penguins . . .  seals . . . as well as icebergs, research stations, half-sunk ships and abandoned whaling stations.  When sea conditions made it unsafe to go ashore (like the 2-3 foot waves at Deception Island), we cruised around in the ship.  Although some people might scoff at the “Captains choice” listing in the cruise itinerary, I think our Captain did a masterful job at providing us with a truly peak experience.  He took route decisions that helped us avoid the worst of the weather and selected a group of sites for shore landings that fully satisfied this traveler’s dreams.

I just wanted to extend my thanks and appreciation for the fine work done by you crew that made my trip so much more enjoyable.

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First, Lauren and Mike were great and provided excellent support throughout the trip. Second, I’d like to thank Stacey who helped resolve a last minute seating down-grade issue with American Airlines.  American Airlines had contacted my home phone number and my wife was helped by Stacey who got the problem fixed. I’m sorry you and Mimi missed this trip.  It was truly epic.  I’d read a lot about voyages around Cape Horn and the dreaded Drake Passage.  We had the opportunity to get the true Antarctic experience with the Drake “Shake” both coming and going. Atlas’ World Navigator was an exceptional ship and the staff was top notch.  I don’t think I could have asked for a better experience.  Only downside was I wish we had a bit more shore time in Ushuaia.  They have a maritime museum there that I didn’t get a chance to visit as our arrival was in the early evening (after closing hours) both from the flight from Buenos Aires and the return from Antarctica.  A “shore supplement” day there would be nice, although it might not dovetail with charter flights provided by Air Bondi. Ken.

I will attach some photos from our trip. Please tell Mark what wonderful hosts Lauren and Mike were. They did a great job of taking care of us! -Andrea and Dale Smith



The trip to Antarctica was amazing. Clearly, the shear physician nature of crossing Drake’s Passage and then seeing the massive mountains and glaciers of the Antarctic peninsula were worth the price of admission. Accommodations , food and drink were excellent. The staff were all amazing pleasant and helpful. The charter from Buenos Aires return was cramped but thankfully quick and the service non-existent. But on the return flight, we knew this and were fine. A in all, a fantastic unique experience that few in this world will ever know. We felt honored to be allowed to visit such a far off, desolate but breath-takingly beautiful place and to do so in such comfort.

The only thing I would have changed if it could be changed, was the on shore experiences interaction with the expert staff. As it was, we were disembarked from our zodiacs and assisted to shore and up to safe passages in the snow to follow a nice pathway they had set up designed to have us see all the things possible from each visit.  But with rare exception, there was little interaction with the excursion teams once on land. It appeared as if their primary jobs were to keep us on the restricted paths, not linger long, keep moving so others could see and that was about it. When I asked them questions, which I did maybe three times, they would politely answer, but not offer additional information and essentially stop talking. So almost all the on-foot shore experiences were just me and my wife walking along looking at the amazingly beautiful scenery including penguins as if we were alone. Back on the ship toward the end of the time in Antarctica a few senior tourists who had bene to Antarctica before, raised this point on their on, saying in their prior tour the guides were very interactive and engaging, leading the tours and sharing their experiences

Having said that, it would be hard not to credit the ship, leadership and staff with an amazing experience and thoughtful times around the white continent. Although I do not plan on returning to Antarctica again soon (there are other places I have not seen), if the price were this good and the opportunity arose again, we may return again to this amazing continent.



Comments Regarding the Trip
1. The staff and crew were some of the nicest, friendliest, and most flexible of any with which we have traveled.

2. The crew members presenting lectures and taking us on expeditions were fabulous—so very passionate about conservation of resources, animals and their habitats, and preserving Antarctica. They were all good speakers and educated and knowledgeable about their areas of expertise.

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3. The ship accommodations were comfortable and pleasant. 4. The Pantry was delightful and an alternative for lighter fare. Coffees, cocoas, pastries, sandwiches, etc. we’re delicious. 5. Spa was very pleasant and massages were excellent. Appointments have to be made early to get scheduled. Comments: Food was good, however buffet food and some served dishes were not as warm as preferred. Portion sizes were great. Service was superb. Gift shop on board should consider carrying quality jewelry to serve as special purchase keepsakes as well as small items like magnets, Xmas ornaments, postcards, etc. Landings and hikes were challenging and definitely suited to persons in good physical condition. Connie & Phil Burress

The Butt Slide
Iguazu Falls was spectacular, in my opinion.    I rate it as one of the top two sights I have seen; the “Matterhorn on Fire” is the other.

Guides were good both in Buenos Aires and at Iguazu Falls.

The dinner with entertainment the first night was especially good in my opinion.

My favorite activity was the day I attempted to climb partially up the side of the hill/mountain, lost my footing, then my phone which went skidding down the hill tracking a penguin and with me in pursuit!  Gravity ultimately stopped me and the phone—the penguin kept going!   When the Russian guide got to me, I was laughing my head off and she thought I must be injured.  I told her that if she’d carry back up I would take a second ride/slide.  Fred Hoagland saw my slide, as did many others; Fred named this slide the “Hemorrhoid Busting Penguin Butt Slide! 

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The Drake Passage is a ‘BEAR’ to be kind.  As Laurin has likely expressed, we encountered 100 mph winds and 33-foot swells on the return.  I spend 24 hours in bed both ways re sea sickness. Antarctica was interesting. Lots of white snow and ice.   In fact, one guide told a group of us that on the main continent the ice cap is over 3,000 meters deep and has snow from millions of years ago!!!!  The highest peak of Antarctica appears as just a bump in the ice cap—it is entirely buried, which I found impressive. There is lots of white from snow and ice. There is lots of volcanic rock from volcanoes etc. There is lots of blue from the oceans. We saw great displays of wildlife. Thousands of Penguins. Hundreds of seals Dozens of whales. The cauldron of a volcano was interesting.  The passage was narrow, but the captain guided the ship out despite 81 knot winds. There are remnants of two old whaling stations—one of Spain fame: the other of Argentina. The Polar Plunge was interesting but not nearly as cold as I imagined.  It was more fun than cold for me. The cruise crew was very good.  The Steward was very attentive to Judy re her less than complete healing from surgery Dec 27 and a sinus infection likely from the Iguazu Falls rain forest area.  The Venezuelan doctor was quite attentive to Judy too. The waiters/waitresses did a fine job and were friendly. Joseph and I hit it off great re names. The lunch and dinner ice cream were very good, and Claudia knew by name quickly—the ice cream lover! The tour guides did a very good job overall, both on tours and in seminars. The clothing was more than we needed.  Temps remained in about the 28-34 range the entire time.  I never used the ski mask or the ski headdress. Waterproof was a BIG deal! Thanks again for the list of trips we have taken with Cruise Holidays!   And tease Mark for me; hope Mimi is doing well.   Got to get back to work! Joe Roetheli


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